Author Topic: Complainypants Photographer  (Read 5348 times)

SugarMountain

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Complainypants Photographer
« on: May 29, 2012, 05:11:20 PM »
I get what this person is saying (kind of), that there are a lot of expenses involved with being a wedding photographer and $3000 may not be that out of line, but there is a definite complainypants tone to her rant. http://blog.nikkimaydayphotography.com/2012/01/26/why-wedding-photographers-prices-are-wack-erie-pa-wedding-photographer-response/

Seriously, you lease a car for $400/month in a business where you probably drive a shit-ton of miles and will end up paying overages?  And $200/month insurance?  What kind of ridiculous car is it (or how bad is your record)?   

You only do 20 weddings a year and you're whining that you can't make ends meet?  Why don't you try lowering your price to $2500 and do 40 a year, grossing $100k instead?  There are a lot of fixed costs involved that 20 a year, grossing $60k, obviously barely covers.

Not sure why, but this article set me off a bit.

D-T

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Re: Complainypants Photographer
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2012, 07:00:22 PM »
What I find most irritating is her accounting.  She's also considering her personal rent as an entirely business expense. New shoes.. seriously?

She then complains about start up costs, equipment and investment costs. It's really had to be sympathetic with her post. I'm not arguing that 2500-3000 is ridiculous but she could have made a better point by focusing on her time expenditures.

velocistar237

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Re: Complainypants Photographer
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2012, 07:09:47 PM »
Wedding photographers have to deal with this sort of complaint all the time, so that's where her tone is coming from. Photography is rarely lucrative because the costs really are high, and while this particular photographer didn't make her case very well, I don't interpret her overstatements as a moral failing.

Why don't you try lowering your price to $2500 and do 40 a year, grossing $100k instead?

The photographer who responded starts at $1800. She also shoots portraits and events. In terms of business decisions, she worked with John Harrington, so I'm sure she has a better handle on it than we do.

gooki

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Re: Complainypants Photographer
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2012, 09:44:46 PM »
Thanks for the article. I find it very interesting because I manage a website for a photographer (with #1 google search term rankings) and personally used to shoot/create wedding DVDs.

Other than the car and the housing costs everything else seems reasonable. So if we took more acceptable expenses for the car (100 per month) and studio costs (100 per month), her profit for wedding photography would be $16,600 per year. Say 12 hours per wedding (8 hours shoot, 2 hours post production, 2 hours planning), x 20 weddings a year = an hourly rate after tax and expenses of $69. Which if you ask me is pretty fucking good.





« Last Edit: May 29, 2012, 09:46:47 PM by gooki »

skyrefuge

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Re: Complainypants Photographer
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2012, 10:21:33 PM »
ha, this is kind of interesting to me because wedding photography is something that I've considered doing once I reach FI.  Not least because it seems like it's possible to earn a good amount of money for intermittent and fairly enjoyable work!  And since I will already own a car, a house, a computer, shoes, and even a good amount of camera equipment, and already be paying for phone, internet, web hosting, and health insurance, my "overhead" will be a hell of a lot smaller than hers.  And since I'll be at FI, my required net income would be anything above $0.  The result being that I'd be able to help out this bride (and piss off this photographer) because I'd be able to compete with anyone on price.  The only question then would be if it's "worth it" for me to spend the time.

So I agree with this bride that the prices seem pretty high (except for me that's a good thing and I hope the working photographers manage to keep the prices high!)  Maybe if you're trying to actually fund your whole life on a wedding-photography career and work out the numbers, then they don't seem so high, and I can understand getting a bit annoyed when people whine about your prices if you're actually just barely making ends meet.  But whining about people whining is nothing but a waste of time (it's not going to make people pay any more for your services), and I can't think of anyone who whines as much about their customer whining as photographers do (though maybe my impression would be different if I'd read as many, say, funeral-director forums as I've read wedding-photographer forums).   

gooki

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Re: Complainypants Photographer
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2012, 03:41:19 AM »
What really grinds my gears, is she's trying to justify her time as being worth $208.00 before taxes and expenses yet she's only paying her extra photographer $25 per hour before taxes and expenses. And that second photographer will have lots of similar expenses.

Matt K

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Re: Complainypants Photographer
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2012, 06:06:21 AM »
This article made a lot of waves previously (not sure if it was here, or in a photography specific forum I was on).

My (simplified) take on it is this: If you do your job right, people will pay (and be happy to) $2000+ for wedding photos.
If you are unwilling to deal with the complainy-pants clients who don't want to pay what you think you are worth, then you need to step up your game (either the work itself, or more likely your sales abilities) to court the clients who will pay that.

If you are going to deal with clients who don't want to pay that much, you have to build a business plan that allows you to cover your costs (and that means being honest about what your costs are - in the case of someone on their feet all day, proper footwear counts, but leasing a nice car probably not) while offering them the service they want at the price they want to pay.

For anyone running (or thinking of running) a side gig, remember the cardinal rule of pricing: Pricing is set by what the market will pay, not by what your expenses are. If your expenses are more than the market will pay, it's time to redo your business plan.

AJ

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Re: Complainypants Photographer
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2012, 10:16:38 AM »
Not to mention that she is complaining that she "only" makes $7000 (after all expenses, rent, taxes, healthcare, and car) for four months of work (wedding season). That is $350 a week to feed, clothe, and entertain herself. Sounds reasonable to me.

Actually, this sounds like a rather lucrative side-business for a teacher, who might have a good portion of wedding season off.

I could be convinced that photography is an expensive hobby that doesn't pay well, but her presentation is rather terrible. If she had left out the personal expenses and focused more on how much time and effort she spends, it would have been more sympathetic.

gooki

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Re: Complainypants Photographer
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2012, 06:12:55 PM »
Not to mention that she is complaining that she "only" makes $7000 (after all expenses, rent, taxes, healthcare, and car) for four months of work (wedding season). That is $350 a week to feed, clothe, and entertain herself. Sounds reasonable to me.

It's not even four months of work. It's six weeks work (12 hours per wedding x 20 per season, divided by 40 hour working week).

I'd much prefer the "I charge $3000 per wedding because I'm a fucking good photographer and you'll get the best damn photos possible if you hire me" attitude than that complainypants excuse she came up with. Quality costs money and there's lots of people willing to pay for it.

menorman

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Re: Complainypants Photographer
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2012, 07:12:45 PM »
Not to mention that she is complaining that she "only" makes $7000 (after all expenses, rent, taxes, healthcare, and car) for four months of work (wedding season). That is $350 a week to feed, clothe, and entertain herself. Sounds reasonable to me.

It's not even four months of work. It's six weeks work (12 hours per wedding x 20 per season, divided by 40 hour working week).

I'd much prefer the "I charge $3000 per wedding because I'm a fucking good photographer and you'll get the best damn photos possible if you hire me" attitude than that complainypants excuse she came up with. Quality costs money and there's lots of people willing to pay for it.
Yep, quality (and a reputation for it) will allow someone to charge pretty much whatever they want for their work and easily get it. Those with funds will often happily pay top dollar for what they perceive is top quality and if a reputation gets built, prices might have to be raised even more to keep the competition down. As counter-intuitive at it might seem, people will probably more readily pay a higher price for merit alone than they will if "costs" are broken down.

ivyhedge

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Re: Complainypants Photographer
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2012, 10:30:46 PM »
Pricing is absolutely important.

But marketing is more important.

And shooting capability and creativity are paramount.

While living in DC, my side gig was as a photographer. I'm mostly science by nature, but have always had a creative side. I began as a second ($125/gig) and eventually shot a number of $8,000+ weddings and $5,000+ mitzvahs.

What carried my success wasn't pricing - it was quality. Word travels fast of an unhappy bride. But it travels faster if the buyer loves what you captured.

With the risk of sounding a little "get off my lawn", please, to those thinking of shooting for pay, truly learn the craft. With cameras less costly than ever, so many folks with Costco memberships mint 1,000 VistaPrint cards and suddenly they're Annie L. They crush pricing, and they crush quality. I have no doubt that some here would out shoot me in a heartbeat. And I fully realize that the costly nature that is DC is what allowed me to earn a lot from weddings and parties: it's not the norm, although it is one of those fields (which menorman noted) where undercharging drives away volume.

Good hunting...use available light. ;)

James

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Re: Complainypants Photographer
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2012, 06:22:55 AM »
Good hunting...use available light. ;)


And be there...  :)


Photography is my major hobby, I shoot for free because I want to enjoy it and keep the pressure down, but I'm constantly challenging myself to shoot like a professional and not a hack.  I do lots of family portraits and have shot a wedding, but only because it was me or the mother of the bride...  :)


Shooting a wedding, or any other one time live action gig but especially weddings, is a high stress and demanding job.  Real quality takes real skill, and the ones who do it right are worth every penny.  But you can't tell quality from business plans, lists of expenses, or even self reporting.  So every time I hear an individual situation of a photographer complaining about getting too little, or hear people complain about paying too much, I tune it out.  I simply can't judge without all the information.  For some photographers $200 for a wedding is too much, better to hire uncle Bob.  And for others $20,000 is worth every penny because there is only one of that photographer and he can only shoot so many wedding in a year.  The same can be said for web designers, painters, and other creative professionals the world over.  Life ain't fair, starting in photography is very very hard, don't complain because you actually have the option to begin a creative profession.  That is something most of the world can't even consider.